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Life on the Deckle Edge

Happy Janiveer.... with Birds

 

Greetings and Happy Janiveer, Poetry Lovers!

 

After a few weeks of being slammed with Etsy orders before the holidays (thanks to anyone who contributed to those late nights! :0) ), and then the better part of two weeks road-tripping to visit family hither and yon, I'm still "starting" my New Year.  I SHOULD have spent every free hour this week restoring order in my studio (not to mention house/home office).  Somehow, I also took little detours into a local thrift shop or two to see what new (old) things might call my name.

 

I found a hardcover edition of a book I love, THE COUNTRY DIARY OF AN EDWARDIAN LADY by Edith Holden.  I've professed my affections for this tome before, as Jeff gave me a cherished paperback copy early in our marriage.  But for a buck going to a good cause, I succombed to bringing home this larger version, too.  

 

Our Dear Edith opens her January pages with  notes on Janus, and Epiphany (Jan. 6), and an excerpt from Spenser's Faerie Queen, and mottoes such as:  "If the grass do grow in Janiveer/It grows the worse for it all the year."  Her illustrations of Blue Tits, a Cole (Coal) Tit and Great Tit are delightful. 

 

What exactly are these birds, you ask?  Well, good thing that my Christmas gift from my son, Seth, was a copy of Collins Bird Guide - the Most complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe. (Here's a British link to that bird family in case you were not similarly gifted.  It describes these charming feathered friends as "small birds with plain or colourful plumages, stout legs and strong feet and short, triangular bills," noting that some have crests, and all are frequent visitors to bird feeders.)  Last February I included a photo of one from our 2018 trip to Scotland in my Poetry Friday Roundup post here.

 

Edith Holden includes one more spread of January musings - two poetic selections and an illustration of dead leaves - before her daily entries for the month.

 

Here is her excerpt from "Frost at Midnight" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), the last stanza:

 

 

  Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the night-thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

 

 

(You can read the whole poem here.)

 

(I'm quietly swooning at the quiet last line.)

 

The always-shining Sally Murphy hosts our Roundup this week; so glad to "see" her as I know we are all worried about our Australian friends.  (Continued prayers for everyone through those fires, Sally and Kat.)  Click over to see what she's been up to, and to enjoy all the poetry links!  

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Poetry Friday: Edith Holden's Country Diary


Volatile weather, blankets of yellow pollen, blossoms and buds and greening of trees large and small – spring is definitely here! This week I turn to Edith Holden – do you know her? She lived a hundred years ago and captured spring, and all seasons, with her pen and paints. Best known for her “Nature Notes” which became THE COUNTRY DIARY OF AN EDWARDIAN LADY, she offers us a glimpse into a life connected to the land, and to words, and to art – much like that of Beatrix Potter.

Years and years ago, Jeff gave me a paperback copy of Edith’s COUNTRY DIARY, and I’ve managed not to lose it in all of our moves. I love that it’s reproduced as she penned it, with lettering in brown sepia and images brought to life in watercolor.

One hundred and eleven years ago today, on April 7, 1906, she recorded this:

Another glorious day. Cycled to Knowle. On the way found some Marsh Marigolds and Blackthorn in blossom. The Tadpoles have come out of their balls of jelly and career madly about the aquarium wagging their little black tails. A Gudgeon which had put into the aquarium has made a meal of a good many of them. Ground ivy in blossom.”

Isn’t that lovely?

She shared some poetry on these April pages as well. Here are the shorter excerpts:

”And wind-flowers and violets
Which yet join not scent to hue
Crown the pale year weak and new.”


Shelley


“Long as there’s a sun that sets
Primroses will have their glory
Long as there are violets
They will have a place in story.”


Wordsworth


”Now lav’rocks wake the merry morn
Aloft on dewy wing:
The merle, in his noontide bower
Makes woodland echoes ring
the mavis wild wi’ many a note
Sings drowsy day to rest,
In love and freedom they rejoice
We’ care nor thrall oppressed.

Now blooms the lily on the bank,
the primrose down the brae;
The hawthorn’s budding in the glen
And milk-white is the slae!


Burns


The book is apparently not currently in print, though I found some used copies online. I also found an English website devoted to it, and to Edith, at http://www.countrydiary.co.uk/ .
From the biography there:

As was common at the time Edith and her sisters were educated at home by their mother and they were taught to appreciate literature, including poetry which was a particular interest of Edith's parents. Sketching, painting and knowledge of nature were also considered an important part of a girl's education.

Here is also a short, interesting bio on a Unitarian Universalist site, which highlights her work as an illustrator of children’s books.

Happy Spring, to those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, and Happy Fall, to those in the Southern. And Happy Poetry Month to all! Enjoy poems blossoming all over this week at Live Your Poem, where the Incredible Irene has our Roundup, AND today’s line in the Progressive Poem, which is her brainchild, AND a new poem in her ARTSPEAK series. Enjoy!
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